We heard about a local horse race from Angelo, our friend from Idaho we met in Xiahe. The race is in the nearby
city village of Henan, and figured we should check it out since it is a big thing for the towns here. We tried to get a normal bus ride over, but apparently they don’t exist, so we had to flag down a private ride over. Despite being a short 150km away, the ride took close to 5hours! Most of the roads were under construction, and I mean that literally, as there were only rocks. Bumpy ride, hurt our bumps….
Travel Tip: In China it is very normal to have random strangers offer you a ride for a pre-negotiated sum. It’s perfectly normal! Just make sure you haggle the price….
Arriving at the town, which consisted of 3 roads and about 30k people. Despite being in a Tibetan region, this town is actually a Mongolian minority group village (which explains the horse racing?). All the ‘liveable’ hotels were booked completely by the municipal gov’t because of the race, and whatever remains was not very pleasant. If you know how things worked, you’d know that most hotels probably have rooms open but are saving them up for ‘special guests’. For example, a foreign passport holder! So after walking into each hotel and getting rejected, we tried another way, calling them…. in english. Thinking that they don’t really have many english speaking guests, they would try to accommodate the foreigners with as much hospitality as possible. This is what happened….twice:
Hotel lobby: “Ni hao”
Us: “Hello, do you have any rooms available tonight?”
Us: “Room. Sleep. In your hotel.”
Hotel: “Labrah kizmoa” (they all speak local dialects here, pu-tong-hua is not pu-tong at all)
Us: “Sleep, we foreigner, want bed.”
So we dropped our expectations and walked about 2km, checking out about 9 motels and finally found a motel with … a bed and a flushing toilet. Done. What we think is originally a $20RMB room, is now going for $150RMB. I don’t know what kind of motel you can get for $3CAD, but it’s not very good.
The village itself was bustling with people dressed up in their finest clothes, and extremely beautiful local woman. I have no clue what’s in the water, but the females here have extremely pretty features, and the guys have a strangely fashionable style of wearing clothes. I haven’t been able to take pictures of them, because they all stare at us like we’re from mars, and have a big of a ‘stabby’ look in their eyes.
During the raucous, people dressed in traditional garbs randomly came up to give us blessing and asked for money. We just refused and most of them would walk away, while swearing at our backs. Great. One guy though, was especially strange, he held my left hand and wouldn’t let me go! I was weirded out until I realized he was actually tugging at my wedding band! Glad my band has a good fit, or it would’ve been gone with that gypsy tricksta!